Media Center

Jul 29

Letter to Congress demanding $32 billion in emergency transit funding

Issue in Focus: TRANSIT FUNDING

Dear Senator/Representative:

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the largest union representing transit workers in the U.S., joins the nation’s largest transit agencies in calling for an additional $32 billion in emergency federal aid to public transit systems through the end of 2021 as our industry struggles to continuously meet the traveling needs of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we stated a few months ago, ATU and our transit allies were extremely grateful for Congress’ commitment to public transit through its $25 billion allocation in the CARES Act. Thanks to you, transit-dependent people, many of whom cannot afford to call an Uber or buy their own car have been able to get to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the doctor during these extremely dark days. In addition, we have provided rides to countless brave medical professionals headed to the front lines to help us battle this horrible virus.

Now, as states begin to open up their economies, the challenges for public transit get tougher. How do we provide enough service to avoid overcrowded buses and trains – which are now not just an inconvenience but potentially fatal – and comply with CDC’s social distancing guidelines?  Where will the industry get the resources necessary to purchase physical barriers and partitions to correct serious air flow recirculation issues on transit vehicles? Moreover, the industry needs massive amounts of funding for personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep our members safe. Thousands of transit workers have tested positive for the Coronavirus, and more than 80 ATU members have died due to COVID-19 because we are continuously exposed to large crowds of riders at close range, often times without the necessary PPE to keep us safe.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act funding is running out fast because most systems have been boarding vehicles from the rear without charging fares during the pandemic. Local sales tax revenues from restaurants and retail stores normally earmarked for transit have obviously not been coming in, cutting off critical operating funds. Massive service cuts are being considered from coast to coast, threatening to derail recovery efforts.

We urge you to provide an additional $32 billion in emergency federal aid to public transit systems in the next COVID bill. Thank you for your consideration of our views. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact Jeff Rosenberg in the ATU Government Affairs Department at (202) 309-4108 or jrosenberg@atu.org.

 

                                                                                    Sincerely,
                                                                                    John A. Costa
                                                                                    International President